Float by Daniel Miyares (InfoSoup)
This wordless picture book has a boy creating a boat from newspapers that he then takes outside. The sky is dark with rain clouds and the boy protects the paper boat from the sudden downpour with his rain slicker. Then he floats the boat in a quiet puddle. When he lets it into the fast flowing water in the gutter, it scoots away from him, across the road, and down into the sewer. The boy goes to a bridge and sees the limp newspaper page come out of the drainpipe into the pond. It is all droopy and limp, just like the disappointed boy. He heads home, gets dried off, has some cocoa, and then it is back to the newspapers, this time to make something for the sunny day outside.
Beautifully paced with luminous illustrations, this wordless picture book is filled with simple pleasures. From experiencing the joy of a good rainstorm to having a paper boat that floats so gracefully, the joy is tangible in the early part of the book. Then with the boat racing away from the boy, the pace quickens and the pages turn faster. Readers will know what is going to happen, but hope and hope that it won’t. But it does. The ending of being warm and dry again, with an adult helping and caring for him, makes for a book that celebrates the freedom of playing alone outside but also the importance of having a loving home to return to.
The illustrations are particularly fine. Gray and misty, they embrace the rain and the weather. The boy is a dart of bright yellow on each page, the boat a mix of pastel blues and pinks that sets it apart as well. There is a strong sense of movement on the page from the falling rain to the rushing water. The endpages of the book have folding instructions for both a boat and a paper plane.
A book about playing outside and the joy of nature, this wordless picture book is perfect for rainy days. Just make sure you have plenty of newspaper around. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Lucy and Henry Are Twins by Elizabeth Winthrop, illustrated by Jane Massey (InfoSoup)
Lucy and Henry are toddler twins who spend a merry day together. From waking up where Lucy is wide awake and Henry is slower to move to the way they come downstairs, the personalities of the two children are completely individual. Riding in strollers, the two go to the park where they both explore the different slides, swings and other equipment. Then the two play with a ball. Finally, they head back home again. Their busy day is filled with activity, play and the two of them exploring the world together.
Winthrop keeps this book at just the right level for busy toddlers. The book moves at a brisk pace, showing the different things the children are doing and moving quickly on to the next thing. The text rhymes, which adds to the jaunty feel of the book. The two children are shown equally, sometimes having fun and other times not. Nicely, Winthrop makes sure that each child is brave at times and more skittish at others and happy at times and grumpy at others. Both children are well rounded and believable.
Massey’s illustrations are bright and bold. The children are featured very closely with only the legs and arms of the parents ever in view. This keeps the children at the heart of the story. Interestingly, because the parents are never named or fully seen, this book will work well for gay and lesbian parents and grandparents to share aloud with their little ones.
A particularly strong book for toddlers, this one is not overly sweet and feels like a real outing with toddlers to the park. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from library copy.
My Dog Is the Best by Laurie Ann Thompson, illustrated by Paul Schmid (InfoSoup)
A little boy adores his dog, despite the fact that the boy is full of energy and his dog…well, he’s not. When the boy offers the dog a ball, the dog dozes off. The boy then demonstrates the tricks his dog can do, like playing dead. His dog can also roll over, while sleeping. And even turn into a ball, still asleep. The plays tug of war, by lying on the boy’s blanket and not moving. And even chase, well, not really. The dog can do so many things, like listen to stories, provide a base for playing with toys and even blow bubbles when the bubble wand is put in front of his dozing face. In the end, the little boy gets sleepy and after a big hug falls asleep next to the dog. The dog wakes up and is ready to play now.
I loved this book with the patient sleeping dog who allows himself to be clambered over, played with, and piled on while he is sleeping. There is no sense ever that the dog is anything other than a very happy and willing partner to all of this. The boy is eager but also gentle, his imagination creating worlds where the dog is an active participant in his merry games. The ending is completely adorable with the boy asleep and the dog awake.
Schmid’s illustrations are just right for this book. Done in simple lines on pastel backgrounds, the illustrations show the lovely interplay between little boy and dog. The round dog makes a perfect foil for the active little boy, one a whirl of motion and the other almost motionless.
A book that celebrates having a pet as a small child and the incredible connection one develops. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from copy received from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
The Nowhere Box by Sam Zuppardi
George just can’t get away from his little brothers. They follow him everywhere, even into the bathroom! George has had enough. So when he finds the box from the new washing machine, George builds himself a way to travel far away. In fact, he goes to Nowhere. Nowhere is wide open and empty, but George quickly fixes that by dumping things out of his box. In no time at all, Nowhere is incredibly fun. But wait, there are no dragons to fight and no pirates to sail the seas. Perhaps there is room in this new space for a few more people to play.
Zuppardi takes a classic story of imaginative play and makes it rambunctious and fun. George’s frustration with his younger brothers is tangible in the early pages as is the relief of being alone for awhile. The story is simply told with a frankness and with the images and George’s own imagination carrying the tale forward.
The images are a huge part of what makes this book worth reading. They have a similar energy level to the “No, David” books. As the box becomes more of the story, cardboard is incorporated into the scenes, forming the ground and most of the objects. The images are bright and bold, perfect for high energy kids.
A story of imagination and being an older sibling, this book will be enjoyed by any child who has loved a big box. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Rainbow Stew by Cathryn Falwell
Released on June 15, 2013.
Three children scramble out of bed at their grandpa’s house to a rainy day. But they don’t want to stay inside, so Grandpa sends them outside to find colors to add to his Rainbow Stew. They splash their way into the garden and look under the wet green leaves to find what colors are hidden beneath. They find all sorts of green vegetables like beans, spinach, and cucumbers, some rosy radishes, some purple cabbage, yellow peppers, red tomatoes and brown potatoes. Soon their basket is full and the three children are muddy and happy. They all head inside to cook the stew together, each child helping in their own way. Then there is quiet time inside as the stew cooks, until finally they can all enjoy Rainbow Stew!
Falwell merrily combines a love of gardening and a willingness to get muddy in this book. She uses quick rhymes that add a bouncy feel to the book, maintaining that sense of joy that is everywhere in this book. I am particularly pleased to see a book with a grandfather taking expert care of grandchildren in this book.
The illustrations are filled with falling rain, but also small faces turned up into it and knees plunked down into the mud. The completely African-American family is also great to see in a picture book that easily integrates into rain or gardening or color units and story times.
Ripe and ready to be picked, this is a great choice for sharing aloud in spring or fall. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from digital galley received from Lee & Low Books via NetGalley.
The World Is Waiting for You by Barbara Kerley
Another visually gorgeous book from National Geographic, this book ties together what kids do at a young age with what they can become as an adult. The book invites children to get out into the world and explore. After all, if you love getting wet, you could become a diver. Love digging in the mud? You could be an archeologist. Love looking at the stars? Climbing trees? Digging into deep holes in the ground? All of these and more are skillfully tied to careers in a book that is less about getting children to buckle down and more about getting them to open up and fly.
Kerley’s prose reads like a poem, each line designed as an invitation to be themselves and get into things that they love. Even better, those same thrilling things are tied to life as an adult, offering options for turning their passions into careers. Yet this book does not dwell there, instead it is a cornucopia of ideas, one after another meant to inspire thought and dreaming than to instruct on specific jobs.
As always in National Geographic books, the illustrations are crisp and colorful photographs. Here readers will see children out in nature, interacting and loving it. The images are from around the world and are filled with joy and motion. At the end of the book, details on each image are given.
Bright, colorful and filled with inspiration, this is a career book that children will find thrilling. Appropriate for ages 4-8.
Reviewed from library copy.